What is it about?

Carbon is a very flexible element, which, through different hybridization states, can exist in different allotropic forms. sp-hybridized carbon wires are intriguing systems with structure-, length- and termination-dependent properties: they represent the ideal 1D system capable to display either semiconducting or metallic properties thanks to π-conjugation effects which determines two possible structures: poly-cumulene (equalized geometry) and polyyne (dimerized geometry). Such systems are relevant for fundamental properties related with the formation of carbon nanostructures and the existence of novel carbon allotropes. They are also appealing for potential applications in nanolectronics and optoelectronics. The sp hybridization has been investigated for a long time to find a new carbon allotrope. Today nanostructures are appealing as tunable functional building blocks (nanocables, wires) for nanodevices.

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Why is it important?

Carbon atomic wires represents interesting systems for a wide community. In a chemistry-based approach they are linear molecules with pi conjugation, undergoing a Peierl’s distorsion. For physicists they are atomic wires. Linear carbon is interesting in astrophysics for the interpretation of diffuse interstellar bands. In carbon science sp carbon represents the ‘lacking allotrope’ and a key step in the formation of carbon clusters (the ‘fullerene road’). In nanotechnology carbon wires are candidate for carbon based nanodevices.


sp-carbon has been considered for long times as elusive, unstable or even impossible. However small linear structures are today experimentally available in stable form and hold promising for future advanced applications.

prof. Carlo Spartaco Casari
Politecnico di Milano

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This page is a summary of: Carbon-atom wires: 1-D systems with tunable properties, Nanoscale, January 2016, Royal Society of Chemistry,
DOI: 10.1039/c5nr06175j.
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